Hinds calls for evidence from schools on special needs funding

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Schools will be asked for their views on funding for children with complex needs, the Education Secretary will announce today.

In a speech at the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) annual conference in Telford, Damian Hinds will ask schools to submit their views in preparation for the Government’s spending review, due later this year.

The evidence will be used to find ways that funding for young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) could be distributed more effectively, Mr Hinds will say.

“I want to make sure we have the best understanding of how our system for funding children with high needs is operating on the ground – and whether there are improvements we can make so every pound of public money we spend is building opportunities for young people,” he will say.

“I’ve made clear that I will back head teachers to have the resources they need to provide the best education possible for every child – that ambition is no different for children with SEND, nor should it be.”

But the NAHT, which represents head teachers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said the picture facing schools with SEND children was “bleak” and the “simple” solution lay in more funding.

Responding to excerpts from the speech, general secretary Paul Whiteman said: “Not only are school budgets at breaking point, there have been severe cuts to local authority health and social care provision.

“Schools are left struggling to meet the needs of our most vulnerable pupils.

“A call for evidence is welcome, as the issue is complex, but ultimately the solution is simple: more money from the Treasury is urgently needed, both for schools and health and social care services.”

The call for evidence will end on July 31.

Separately, an NAHT survey shows that schools are struggling to recruit and retain teachers.

Some 37% of school leaders said they struggle to recruit new staff because so many teachers leave the job.

The survey shows that workload pressures and a poor work-life balance were the main causes of teachers resigning.

Two thirds of respondents said they struggled to recruit head teachers.

The association said the figures were “no surprise” and that “the facts are no longer in dispute”.

The Government said in response that its Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy would improve teacher training, lower workloads and make the process of becoming a teacher easier.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “The Education Secretary has been clear that there are no great schools without great teachers.

“Despite there being more than 450,000 teachers – 11,900 more than in 2011 – with increasing numbers returning to the profession, it is his top priority is to make sure teaching remains an attractive and fulfilling profession.”

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